Mandatory line locate program will make Ontario safer, save taxpayer dollars
TORONTO, June 14, 2012 /CNW/ - Union Gas - Canada's second-largest natural gas utility - hailed today's passage of Bill 8, the Ontario Underground Infrastructure Notification System Act, declaring the decision will lead to a safer Ontario.
"By passing this one simple piece of legislation, Ontario has taken a huge leap forward to improve the safety of every single resident, cut costs for every single taxpayer and increase the productivity of the province as a whole," said Mike Shannon, Union Gas vice-president of distribution operations.
"We congratulate all three parties in the provincial legislature for coming together to pass this important legislation, which will significantly improve worker safety and protect the lives of all Ontarians," said Steve Baker, president of Union Gas. "We look forward to working with the government to help develop regulations that will ensure a smooth transition for all stakeholders."
Ontarians are at serious risk when utility lines such as buried pipelines or hydro lines are struck or damaged because homeowners, building contractors and other excavators do not obtain the lines' precise locations before digging. In 2011 alone, natural gas lines were hit and damaged almost 2,700 times in Ontario.
Currently, an excavator may need to call up to 13 different numbers to locate all utility lines near a dig site. The Ontario Underground Infrastructure Notification System Act, which was passed in the legislature this morning, will require all underground utility owners in the province to join a non-profit, 100-per-cent industry-funded "One Call" call centre that will act as the single point of contact for all underground utility location services in Ontario.
In addition to the potential risk of a public emergency as well as the inconvenience of utility outages, economic analysts estimate that damages caused by excavators who don't call before they dig cost utility customers, municipalities and, ultimately, Ontario taxpayers, tens of millions of dollars every year.
There are also significant indirect costs related to dispatching emergency services, liability related to injuries and/or fatalities, business interruption and productivity losses. In the United States, all 50 states have mandated One Call centres and have seen damages reduced by as much as 70 per cent.
Sarnia-Lambton Conservative MPP Bob Bailey re-introduced Bill 8, a Private Member's Bill, to the legislature last year. It was co-sponsored by Paul Miller, the NDP MPP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, and received the support of all three parties during today's vote.
As a founding member of Ontario One Call and the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance, Union Gas has long advocated for a single mandatory locate system for the province and was among a broad coalition of presenters who appeared before a legislative committee this April in support of the proposed legislation.
About Union Gas
Union Gas Limited is a major Canadian natural gas storage, transmission and distribution company based in Ontario with 100 years of experience and service to customers. The distribution business serves about 1.4 million residential, commercial and industrial customers in more than 400 communities across northern, southwestern and eastern Ontario. Union Gas' growing storage and transmission business offers a variety of storage and transportation services to customers at the Dawn Hub, the largest underground storage facility in Canada and one of the largest in North America. The Dawn Hub offers customers an important link in the movement of natural gas from Western Canadian and U.S. supply basins to markets in central Canada and the northeast U.S. Union Gas, named one of Canada's Top 100 Employers and one of Canada's Greenest Employers, for 2012, is a Spectra Energy (NYSE: SE) company with assets of $5.8 billion and approximately 2,200 employees. For more information, visit uniongas.com.
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